Society for the Teaching of Psychology
Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

Stephanie Simon-Dack: I'm a Member of STP and This is How I Teach

15 Jun 2018 2:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

School name: Ball State University

Type of school: Public Research Institution

School locale: small Midwestern city

Classes you teach:

Introductory Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Graduate Neuroscience, the capstone research course for seniors

Average class size: 40 for undergraduates, 25 for graduates

What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?

Treat every day like a new day with the students.  Love what you do.  Balance enthusiasm with rigor.

What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? 

The journal Teaching of Psychology.

Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.

I absolutely love teaching students about the neural action potential.  I also enjoy the lecture I give on “zombie” parasites in mammals.

Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.

I have the students “act out” the action potential physically.  I like that one a lot.  Also, we run a dissection lab every term in the cognitive and grad classes that is a lot of fun, and dissect sheep brains with plastic utensils in turkey tins.

What teaching or learning techniques work best for you?

I’m a lecturer, but I move a lot, and I use a lot of physical demonstrations to get scientific points across.  Short, regular quizzes also seem to work well to assist students in learning the materials and retaining them. 

What’s your workspace like?

I do almost everything on the computer with very little paper these days, so it is digital!

Three words that best describe your teaching style.

Energetic, enthusiastic, engaged

What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

Students engage when materials are relevant to them.

Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation.

I once, in my first year of teaching, had a piece of candy in my pockets that melted everywhere, ruining my pants!  The students whispered about it, but I laughed it off and kept going.  I thought for sure it would be the end of my reputation with the students, but my reaction and ability to keep going seemed to gain me some respect.

What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

I think they’d be surprised to know I like musicals (they all already know I love zombies).

What are you currently reading for pleasure?

A mystery series called The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency about a woman P.I. in Botswana.

What tech tool could you not live without?

My laptop.

What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)?

We chat about our children; we are a very family oriented department!

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